The cancer Biology Laboratory at Southern Connecticut State University was established ten years ago with a dual purpose:
- to develop new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of cancer
- to train undergraduate and graduate students the principles and methods of biomedical research
A decade later and the goals remain the same. Along the way there have been many achievements:
- Research studies in the mid-to-late 90's documenting the anti-cancer effects of aspirin dervatives such as sodium salicylate in diverse solid tumor malignancies and leukemia cell lines. These studies also documented that the use of aspirin in combined chemotherapry showed enhanced cytotoxic effects compared to single agent conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.
Research on the use of natural substances with anti-inflammatory properties with potential anti-cancer effects:
- caffeic acid phenethyl ester
- green and black tea extract
- low dose arsenic trioxide
- all-trans retinoic acid
- A decade of research suggests that agents with anti-inflammatory properties have powerful anti-cancer effects, a notion that was not at all apparent when we began these studies many years ago.
- Studies of solid tumor structural parameters that may drive many aberrant processes associated with malignancy. These studies began with an application of Robert Sutherland's multicelluar tumor spheroid model in the study of solid tumor behavior and drug resistance mechanisms.Our studies showed that chemotherapy resistant spheroids respond well to anti-inflammatory agent that target tumor structures essential to tumor survival.
The past several years have been enormously productive in our laboratory as these long-term studies have led to some important discoveries in our Cancer Biology Laboratory.
In the therapeutic realm, we have discovered that many species of common primitive primitive plants, including mosses, ferns and lichens display potent ani-cancer properties against numerous human malignancies in pre-clinical assessments. These extracts have been given the name "PRIMIPLEX" and a patent application has been filed with the US patent Office. These studies have also indicated that these extracts can be used with conventional chemotherapeutics to achieve more powerful cancer cell-killing effects. Our laboratory is currently engagaed in many new studies in this exciting area of research.
Structural biology studies in our laboratory showed that solid tumor formation requires focal adhesion substrates that are dependent on focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activity. and that thebinability of tumor cells to generate solid tumor masses results in tumor cell death.
Further studies of solid tumor formation led to an important discovery of a novel class of cell-derived structures that appear to play an important role in many regulatory aspects of multicellar systems. We have designated these structures "Tissue Organizing Structures" (TOS) and have received a provisional patent for this discovery. We believe that this discovery has many important applications to the study and treatment of cancer and many other diseases. TOS may also be an important component of metazoan embryogenic and developmental processes. Our laboratory is currently engaged in many new studies in this area.
Lab members Tasino Herbert, Dr Crawford, Gayle Nobert and Herbert Potter
This is a confocal laser fluorescent image of a Tissue Organizing Structure (TOS) stained with acridine orange. The approximate size of these structures is 2 microns (1000X magnification).
Our research has shown that these cell-derived structures play an important role in solid tumor formation, spread, intercellular contact, tissue organization, and gene transfer associated with tissue and cell morphogenesis. We have also documented potential therapeutic preclinical activities.